Homeowners and Renters Insurance vs. Earthquake Insurance
Quakes are unpredictable. They come suddenly, causing the ground to shake rapidly. They can trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, and tsunamis. Will your insurance cover you when disaster strikes?
Homeowners and renters insurance cover several types of perils—fire, smoke, windstorms, and theft—but they typically exclude earthquakes.
It wasn’t always that way. Most insurance companies covered earthquakes until the 1990s. Now, policies don’t cover damage caused by land movement or landslides. That means standard home or renters insurance typically won’t pay for earthquake damage.
Earthquake insurance can pick up where your standard homeowners or renters policy leaves off.
What It Covers
What your earthquake policy covers depends on your specific policy. The details can vary from one insurer to the next. Ask questions about what it might include before you purchase coverage.
In general, a typical earthquake insurance policy for homeowners covers:
Dwelling coverage: Repairs to the home and attached structures
Personal property coverage: Personal belongings, such as clothing and furniture
Loss of use: Additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable after an earthquake hits
Your insurer may offer optional add-ons, such as building code upgrade coverage. If building codes changed after your home was built, this add-on will cover the increased costs to bring it up to code.
Earthquake coverage for renters covers your personal property. If a quake damages your computer, clothing, or furniture, your renters insurance policy will cover the replacement costs up to the policy’s limit.
What It Doesn’t Cover
Earthquake insurance only covers damage caused by earthquakes. That means it doesn’t cover:
However, other insurance policy options can cover some of the resulting damage not covered under the earthquake policy.
If an earthquake ruptures a gas line and causes a fire to break out in your home, your homeowners insurance will likely cover the fire loss. A small shift in the earth could result in a sinkhole, so consider adding sinkhole coverage to your home insurance policy. And you would need a separate flood insurance policy to cover flood damage, even if the earthquake caused a tsunami that resulted in the flood.
Ask your auto insurance company about earthquake insurance for your car. Adding comprehensive auto insurance to your policy usually covers quake damage.